Guest Author - Meredith Ball
Lead-based paints in reusable shopping bags is the hot topic in the news recently after grocery stores like Winn-Dixie and Publix were criticized for selling shopping bags with lead levels that were above the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards. The EPA sets the maximum level of lead at one hundred parts per million and the bags at Winn-Dixie were as high as 121. Sadly, these bags that are often mass produced abroad and then sold in grocery or other big “box” stores are not always regulated for environmental standards.
Lead can leach from these bags into foods or products within the bags, yet the likelihood of that is not very high. Is that a chance you want to take though? If you have the opportunity to purchase a bag that is organic cotton and identified as such, then this is your safest choice.
Lead toxicity can cause a range of health problems from fatigue to memory loss to heart problems. It is important to purchase organic cotton bags and not fall into the easy trap of purchasing the 99 cent bag at the store because it is there. These bags will most often be the ones that do not meet EPA lead standards. The bags that have bright colors or lots of painted writing on the front in these larger chain stores are most likely to be the worst offenders. Even though that 99 cent reusable bag is cheaper than a solid organic cotton one the health benefits and peace of mind are well worth the monetary cost.
Since this issue has arisen though, Senators and hundreds of thousands of people have written to and spoken out to the FDA to ensure regulation of the production of these bags. Now that the news is available to all of us we can become better educated as well as help to advocate for stricter production standards as well.
This news may cause people to revert back to using plastic bags and to not look for organic cotton bags online to purchase at places such as ECOBAGS. It is imperative that rather than shrink from the issue we choose instead to move forward with more educated retail purchases and a demand for organic cotton bags. With more demand for healthy reusable bags the cost will ultimately be driven down which will make it easier for people of all socioeconomic statuses to have this healthier option when shopping.